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Optimum germination temperature for vegetable seeds.

Posted May 03 2010 8:53am

There is an optimum temperature, the most ideal temperature,  for vegetable seed to germinate, and it varies from one type of veg to another.

The optimum temperature is printed on the back of most seed packets.

Seeds will germinate over a range of temperatures, but at the optimum temperature :

  1. more seeds germinate – the percentage of seeds to germinate is highest
  2. germination is quicker – the number of days to emergence is less

The benefits of increasing germination rate by hitting the optimum temperature are:

  • seed cost per veg plant produced is less
  • return on effort of seeding is higher

The benefits of decreasing days to emergence by hitting the optimum temperature are:

  • less time for seed to rot off
  • less time for seed to be eaten by predators
  • shorter growing period & earlier harvest

Seeds will germinate at temperatures lower & higher than the optimum temperature, but fewer seeds will germinate & they will take longer to come through.

For example, the optimum germination temperature for asparagus is 77F, when 95% of seeds are likely to germinate, and the asparagus seedlings take 10 days to emerge.  Either side of the optimum temperature, the number of seeds germinating reduces as shown in the table below; and the number of days for the seedlings to emerge increases.

Asparagus seed
Temperature F %germination Days to emerge
32 0
41 0
50 61 53
59 80 24
68 88 15
77 95 10
86 79 12
95 37 19
104 0

Starting seeds off indoors, or outdoors in pots or under glass is worth considering because:

  • germination temperatures for vegetable seeds often differ from the ideal temperatures for plant growth.
  • soil temperature takes a long time to heat up & waiting for the optimum soil temperature will prolong harvest dates, if indeed, there will be enough days left for a full growing season.

Click this link to view a chart showing the optimum germination temperature for vegetable seeds.

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